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What are the chances of official U.S. qualification on Tuesday?

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The scenario for U.S. official qualification on Tuesday is fairly simple. Jurgen Klinsmann’s team must beat Mexico and then have Honduras win or draw at home against Panama.

So, what are the odds?

Let’s go with a tentative “good, but not quite great.”

The tougher part is winning against Mexico in a game with quickly shifting variables. Two days ago, we would have looked at the history in this rivalry, factored in the current and disparate states of these two border rivals and declared it a potential romp and stomp. “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! …”

Now … maybe not so much.

Michael Bradley has been the most important U.S. man throughout qualifying, a fact driven home with brutal clarity during Friday’s Costa Rica clunker. How that ankle responds over the next 48 hours will say so much about the U.S. chances of controlling the midfield.

And the missing U.S. men, Matt Besler, Jozy Altidore and Geoff Cameron, all suspended due to yellow card accumulation, significantly reduce Klinsmann’s personnel and tactical options. Besler is probably the most critical absence; he and Omar Gonzalez have been Klinsmann’s preferred center back pairing for the last five qualifiers, a stretch that began with that breakthrough 0-0 draw in Mexico City last March.

(MORE: Mexico fires Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre)

The equally significant moving part will be on the Mexican side; hard to say how the big coaching change will affect El Tri. Will the prevailing attitude in the Mexican camp be more about “fresh start,” or will the development further unhinge a side that has lost its way at the worst possible time?

This is a good piece from Kyle McCarthy on all that ails Mexico, on the scene Friday in Mexico City and the fan rebuke that hung in the air like so much gunky smog in and around the famous Azteca venue.

The other half of the qualification equation mentioned above is the easier part to predict. Honduras was a good team coming into final stage CONCACAF qualifying, and this is certainly a side ablaze with confidence now, increasingly well positioned for a second consecutive World Cup appearance. That’s a heady achievement for the small Central American land.

Meanwhile, Panama just hasn’t been what we thought it would be in final stage qualifying, perhaps with a bit of first-timers disease in this final stage World Cup qualifying business. Last night’s failure to pick up all three points at home against down and out Jamaica is the latest evidence.

So Honduras chances of collecting a point (in a draw, or all three points in victory) when the teams meet Tuesday in Tegucigalpa are excellent.

(MORE: U.S. has dandy history in Columbus) 

(MORE: Clint Dempsey joins U.S. 100 Cap Club)

Looking at United States national team history in Columbus

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The reasonable among us understand no there are no falling skies today for U.S. Soccer. Yes, the United States had a stinker last night down in San Jose – but this is now literally and figuratively behind them.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s team vacated the Costa Rican premises first thing this morning, chartering into Ohio, where they will relax the rest of the day and then train on Sunday, two days before Tuesday’s next shot at regional rival Mexico. (By the way, whatever you think of the United States current worry points, Michael Bradley’s bum ankle, the intensifying crisis at outside back, etc., ask yourself this: would you trade the current U.S. problems for Mexico’s problems? I thought not.)

Still, even those who understand that U.S. qualification for a seventh consecutive World Cup is all but mathematically in the bag, Friday’s loss is just a big ol’ bummer. So perhaps all the good, sweet, clean U.S. Soccer supporters could use a little pick-me-up, this evening, a little ice cream cone on a rainy day, so to speak.

Here ‘tis …

Just examine the U.S. history in Columbus, where the national team is undefeated inside Lamar Hunt’s leap of faith facility, the first major stadium constructed solely for soccer in the United States. (Good karma, eh?) The Americans are 6-0-3 there.

Heck, they’ve only conceded one goal in the place all-time. Here is the rundown:

  • Oct. 11, 2000: 0-0 tie vs. Costa Rica
  • Feb. 28, 2001: 2-0 win over Mexico
  • June 7, 2001: 0-0 tie vs. Ecuador
  • July 6, 2003: 2-0 win over Paraguay
  • June 13, 2004: 3-0 win over Grenada
  • Nov. 17, 2004: 1-1 tie vs. Jamaica
  • Sept. 3, 2005: 2-0 win over Mexico
  • Feb. 11, 2009: 2-0 win over Mexico
  • Sept. 11, 2012: 1-0 win over Jamaica

Take special notice of that 2005 match. Bruce Arena’s team booked official qualification that sunny, late-summer day in Ohio for the 2006 World Cup. Surely you remember the famous Oguchi Onyewu stare down of Jared Borgetti?

Sound familiar? September match against Mexico at Crew Stadium with a chance to stake official passage to a World Cup?  Sounds a lot like Tuesday, eh?

Closing the loop on that bizarre Columbus scoreboard fire

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There are so precious few things in life we can truly count. Fortunately, “Getting through the weekend without any scoreboards catching fire …” was one of them. Was, that is.

Until last week, of course, when the Crew Stadium scoreboard erupted in flames, causing a delay of almost an hour in the Columbus Crew-D.C. United match.

The club now says its scoreboard and videoboard are functioning normally and should be good to go for Saturday’s visit from Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls. The match is on NBC Sports Network.

There was previous concern that the videoboard had been damaged by water used to extinguish Saturday’s odd blaze, but those concerns have apparently been allayed.

There is apparently some damaged to the sound system; Crew president Mark McCullers says auxiliary sound will be added to remedy that issue.

Fire investigators with the city of Columbus said this week that an electrical issue in the speaker portion of the scoreboard caused the blaze. The Columbus Dispatch has more details on the cause in the piece linked.

Fire in scoreboard delays Columbus-D.C. United match

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When you think you’ve seen it all … well, better think again.

Saturday’s D.C. United match in Columbus was delayed for almost an hour because – not making this up, swear – the scoreboard caught on fire.

There’s video proof and everything.

We can make light because no one was hurt, and Crew officials appeared to have things contained. And because the game did eventually kickoff without further incident, although delayed by 50 minutes and with some sections of the stadium closed for seating.

Columbus Crew Stadium, the first facility built expressly for Major League Soccer, is 14 years old.

Check back for updates. Columbus Crew officials will speak on the fire later tonight, the team says.

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Let’s play “Choose the site for U.S. World Cup qualifiers”

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Five lucky communities will soon be named to host the United States’ final round World Cup qualifiers.

Well, four seriously lucky Louies, plus one that may or may not be quite as fortunate; by the time Jurgen Klinsmann’s men face Jamaica on Oct. 11 (the fifth and final home match), they may already be safely through to Brazil 2014.

If the choosing were mine, here are the five venues where Klinsi and Co. would be heading over the next nine months. (Disclaimer: I know everyone outside of these five places will hate me; the good soccer folks of Seattle and Portland will lead the pitchfork-and-lantern way.)

Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City: Great stadium, great fans who know how to get their “patriotism” on, and there already a history of success there (albeit not a long one.) Jurgen Klinsmann and his players were falling over each other to talk up that place last fall in the semi-final round win, so it’s hard to see how this one won’t be picked.

Red Bull Arena outside New York: Establishing that home field advantage here is more problematic, but it’s New York!  You know, the Big Apple, an iconic symbol of our country and a media center. Plus, if we’re only talking about MLS stadium (I know U.S. Soccer isn’t, but I am), it seats about 5,000 more than most of the league’s grounds. Games against Panama or Honduras in June would be the best chances.

Crew Stadium in Columbus (pictured): Of course Crew Stadium has to be in the mix. Who cares if the place doesn’t have the pretty things and fancy high-tech edges of other, newer grounds. This one has history, and important history, at that. It’s where Mexican ambition has gone to die. How cool is that!  Mexico vs. the United States on Sept. 10? Can we please book it?

PPL Park outside Philadelphia: Let’s show CONCACAF that not all the verbal nastiness is confined to small Central American nations. The brotherly fans in Philly can presumably accomplish that, right?  By the way, why aren’t we thinking of making Costa Rica play there in March? I know it’s not as close to Mexico as the other possibilities already mentioned, but aren’t we just talking about an extra two hours in the air here?

Rio Tinto Stadium outside Salt Lake City, Utah: Two qualifier appearances, two wins, glowing reviews from U.S. players, coaches and staff. There’s a lot to like, including the beautiful stadium. Unless you put one game in Southern California at the Home Depot Center, this will probably be the Western-most venue.